Benign rabbit calicivirus in New Zealand

Leila J. Nicholson, Jackie E. Mahar, Tanja Strive, Tao Zheng, Edward C. Holmes, Vernon K. Ward, Janine A. Duckworth

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3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Czech v351 strain of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV1) is used in Australia and New Zealand as a biological control agent for rabbits, which are important and damaging introduced vertebrate pests in these countries. However, nonpathogenic rabbit caliciviruses (RCVs) can provide partial immunological cross-protection against lethal RHDV infection and thus interfere with effective rabbit biocontrol. Antibodies that cross-reacted against RHDV antigens were found in wild rabbits before the release of RHDV1 in New Zealand in 1997, suggesting that nonpathogenic RCVs were already present in New Zealand. The aim of this study was to confirm the presence of nonpathogenic RCV in New Zealand and describe its geographical distribution. RCV and RHDV antibody assays were used to screen serum samples from 350 wild rabbits from 14 locations in New Zealand. The serological survey indicated that both RCV and RHDV are widespread in New Zealand wild rabbits, with antibodies detected in 10 out of 14 and 12 out of 14 populations, respectively. Two closely related RCV strains were identified in the duodenal tissue from a New Zealand wild rabbit (RCV Gore-425A and RCV Gore-425B). Both variants are most closely related to Australian RCV strains, but with 88% nucleotide identity, they are genetically distinct. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the New Zealand RCV strains fall within the genetic diversity of the Australian RCV isolates, indicating a relatively recent movement of RCVs between Australia and New Zealand.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00090-17
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume83
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

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    Nicholson, L. J., Mahar, J. E., Strive, T., Zheng, T., Holmes, E. C., Ward, V. K., & Duckworth, J. A. (2017). Benign rabbit calicivirus in New Zealand. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 83(11), 1-13. [e00090-17]. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00090-17